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Probation (shock probation)


Shock probation is a rather old technique to change prisoner’s behavior. The main idea is that a person is sentenced to prison and actually goes in jail but only for a short period of time, approximately from three to six months. Then the judge resentences this person to probation and releases under supervision. This short time in jail is a “shock” for a prisoner, as the first months of incarceration are the most difficult for a person to adjust to new environment, and the fact of being sentenced to prison. Thus, a later release may remarkably improve prisoner’s behavior. This method is quite effective but it has some disadvantages along with great benefits.

One of the most remarkable problems is the limit of this strategy. It can be applied only to those who are sentenced for the first time and whose offenses are non-violent or of lower level (for example, drug offense, theft). The final decision is made by judge, thus, in some cases it may be somehow subjective. Also it may depend on individual’s character, whether the person can handle the prison and learn a lesson from shock probation. Otherwise, it could turn out to be useless.

Nevertheless, shock probation has many advantages that make it quite popular. The term of imprisonment is really short comparing to the usual time of sentences. It is generally believed that the most deterrent effect of prison occurs in the first months of incarceration. Thus, this method enables the prisoner to experience the necessary effect of incarceration but does not endanger the successful return to the community. Another benefit could be solving the problem of overcrowding in prisons. As the time of imprisonment is short, places in jails free quickly and it decreases the rates of possible recidivism or negative influence of old criminals.

Shock sentence is a very special strategy which aims at improving person’s current behavior and future deeds. It has many advantages, as well as disadvantages. The small term of imprisonment is believed to create the necessary “shock” effect on the offender, so that they would not commit a crime in the future. Though some studies claim that it has very little effect on prisoner’s behavior, still it is a powerful methodology. But, perhaps, shock probation needs to be improved to be able to meet individual peculiarities and thus increases its effectiveness.

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